When the Gophers face Indiana on Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium, they might have a different starter at quarterback.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said Monday that he’s not sure yet if true freshman Zack Annexstad will play against the Hoosiers. Annexstad suffered an internal midsection injury late in the first half against Nebraska on Saturday and was briefly hospitalized for evaluation before accompanying the team on its flight home.
“I can’t give you a percentage just yet [of Annexstad’s chances of playing],” Fleck said. “It’s only a day-and-a-half after the game, so for us to say exactly what’s going to happen, I’d be guessing.”
Fleck also said Annexstad, is “doing well. Seems like Zack.”
If Annexstad can’t go, redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan would get the call against the Hoosiers (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten). Morgan replaced Annexstad to start the second half Saturday and directed the Gophers (3-4, 0-4) to back-to-back touchdown drives to open the third quarter, trimming Nebraska’s lead from 28-8 to 28-22. Morgan completed 11 of 16 passes for 214 yards with an interception, after Annexstad went 9-for-20 for 135 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Morgan also gave the Gophers a running threat, carrying four times for 35 yards.
“It was gritty, gutsy,” Fleck said of Morgan’s performance. “That’s what he is. Tanner went in there and does what Tanner does. He gave us a little bit more with the feet — he was able to run some option, escape the pocket, pick up a first down here and there.”
Morgan sparked the Gophers right away, connecting with receiver Chris Autman-Bell for a 69-yard gain to the Nebraska 4-yard line on his first pass. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim scored on a 1-yard run two plays later.
On the Gophers’ second drive of the second half, Morgan completed three of his first four throws for 23 yards, then gained 11 yards on an option keeper. Morgan’s 31-yard pass to Seth Green on a reverse flea-flicker set the Gophers up at the Huskers 6, and Green scored from the 4 two plays later.
Morgan had a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter but also threw an interception with the Gophers at the Nebraska 7.
“He was able to get some extra yards and make second down second-and-short,” Fleck said. “How good you are on third down really has to do with how good you were on first down. If you’re in a lot of second-and-9s, second-and-8s, it’s going to be really difficult to be a high-efficiency third-down team.
“He went in there and owned the team, led the team, commanded the team,” Fleck added.
Annexstad, who has passed for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns with seven interceptions this season, has been limited in his mobility since injuring his left ankle Sept. 15 against Miami (Ohio).
Might Fleck rest Annexstad against the Hoosiers?
“Zack’s got to be able to heal up,” Fleck said. “He’s battled. He’s taken a beating. But he’s also made incredible plays. He’s a tough, tough young man.”